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City exhausts snow removal budget

Snow continues to pile up on Kenmare’s city streets and so do the bills to get it removed.

1/17/17 (Tue)

Problems at school too . . . Employees of Superior Stucco in Minot push snow off the roof of Kenmare High School Thursday afternoon. With just shovels, a snowblower and three workers, it appeared the project might take a long time unless nature intervenes to assist them.

By Marvin Baker

Snow continues to pile up on Kenmare’s city streets and so do the bills to get it removed.

The city has already exhausted a normal snow removal budget for the season and city accountant Jan Kostad cautioned the city council that if normal snow patterns continue, an emergency fund of $16,500 will easily be eaten up by the end of February.

It is estimated that fuel is costing $250 per day to continue the snow removal effort and will approach the $8,000 mark by late February.

Farden Construction has spent several days working with city employees to haul snow to locations where it can be stored until it melts.

That too is becoming an issue because there aren’t a lot of empty lots to place the snow.

The city will get a bill from Farden later this month that is expected to be in the $10,000 to $10,500 range.

Kenmare has already spent $7,558.90 in overtime wages for four people who have been working long shifts getting snow off the streets.

That’s just overtime. Couple that with normal payroll, fuel, maintenance and hiring outside help and the bill could be a hefty one.

That’s why the city council last Monday passed an emergency snow removal declaration. It doesn’t guarantee the city will get funding, or a set amount, but makes Kenmare eligible through the county’s emergency fund if and when funds become available.

Mayor Dwight Flygare read a declaration and asked the council members for their thoughts on the declaration and asked for a motion to set the plan in motion.

In summary, the declaration states that there has been excessive snow since late November, that the snow and the wind have caused roads to become blocked, that the impact threatens the health, well being and safety of the residents of Kenmare and that the city has incurred excess expenses in road equipment and resources.

In the document, Flygare declares the emergency and asks for activation and utilization of the county’s emergency operations plan.

“What’s the next step,” asked council member Jamie Livingston?

A roll call vote was initiated and everyone in attendance voted in favor of declaring the emergency, noting that 50 inches of snow has already fallen.

Ward County’s emergency manager Amanda Schooling says the city will now have to wait to see if the North Dakota Legislature approves any funding for snow removal.

“The signed declaration was to ensure that the city remains eligible for possible funding,” Schooling said. “But that depends on the state.”

Schooling said she has been telling all of the cities to talk to local legislators and inform them of the issues they are facing so the lawmakers will vote in favor of any support the municipalities can receive.

“In 2009, the formula was 50 percent of the total minus the average of the last five years of snow removal for the entity,” Schooling said. “This doesn’t mean they will keep the same formula for anyone who made the declaration this time.”

Schooling noted that Berthold, Carpio and Donnybrook city councils have all declared snow emergencies in their communities.

Much like Kenmare, Berthold hired Gratech to haul the snow away, Carpio public works director Tony Schell has been pushing excess snow into homeowners yards to get if off the streets and Donnybrook has been piling it wherever there may be room to put it.

Temperatures this week have moderated with a high today of 36 and sunny. But even four consecutive days in the 30s this week isn’t going to melt enough to take the pressure off city employees who are removing the snow and their budgets... 

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